Category: Outlaw: The Story of Joe Flick

Bringing Australia's History to Life

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1. The Mother of an Outlaw

In 1934 I applied to the School of Anthropology, Sydney University, to undertake field research for my doctoral thesis. A cousin of my father’s was a member of the Waitara branch of the Christian Brethren, and through them I was invited to ‘visit and assist’ at Doomadgee Mission, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. While there…
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2. The Brook Hotel

At the Mission; that island in the clay and salt of the wild Gulf shore, came days of building heat, followed by thunderstorms such as I had never dreamed possible. Raking winds and black thunderheads roving ahead of a packed, boiling cloud mass, spitting lightning over a shallow sea churned to a furious white. Years…
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3. The ‘Shooting’ of Cashman

Cashman’s boy saw Joe coming, and rose to his full height, brandishing the knife. ‘You been lookout for trouble with me?’ he asked. Yet he hadn’t reckoned on the way Joe covered the ground between them, scarcely having time to raise his guard before copping a right-cross flush to his jaw. Joe was not a…
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4. Hasenkamp

Work at the Doomadgee Mission continued, despite rain and humid heat. Through it all, Len Akehurst toiled from before dawn to long after dusk, assisting with building works, teaching lessons, carrying water, performing the occasional baptism and preaching at prayer meetings. He had, during his training, completed a course in basic dentistry, and ringers from…
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5. Escape from Normanton

Hasenkamp and his men shackled Joe with iron chains, and escorted him 130 miles to Normanton, a five-day ordeal on horseback. There had been some late rain, and the black soil country was hard going in the mud. By the time they reached the town’s neatly surveyed streets, laid out on the western bank of…
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Joe Flick: Chapter 1-5 Catch-up PDF

If you’ve missed some chapters or you’ve been meaning to catch up on the story so far, here it is in PDF format. Then you’ll be ready for the next chapter, which will be posted on Sunday afternoon. You can either download the PDF by clicking here or read it below.

6. Magoura

Being interested in the original people of the Gulf and their culture, I often stopped to talk to an old man called Charlie after my meetings with Kitty. He was a wiry fellow, knotted like old rope, with a sharp mind and encyclopedic knowledge of that strip of coast. Somehow, after a few of these…
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7. Hunted

The feeling of being hunted … Of every rocky outcrop hiding an ambush. Every traveller an informer. Trackers poring over every impression of hoof and boot; reading the sign each time Joe dismounted to eat or brew tea. Joe directed his mount along shallow stony creek beds, walking both horses backwards up the banks several…
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8. Wounded

Kitty told me how her son Joe rode to the west in the wild upper Nicholson country, through a river gorge intersected with knife blades of red stone, ancient cycads and calm, clear pools rich with turtle and fish. She told me about Wanggala – the age of creation – when the river was formed;…
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9. Hodgson Downs

Again the monsoon retreated, and apart from storms bustling out from the horizon in the evening, the weather was better. I had my first touch of Gulf fever, but Dorothy Akehurst’s store of quinine kept it at bay, and I remained on my feet, most of the time. I fished for barramundi in the creek,…
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10. Under Arrest

Mounted Constable Robert Stott of Roper Bar, Kitty told me, was something of an enigma. A man who would one day go on to become Central Australia’s first Police Commissioner, he was maligned by some, and lionised by others. On his police record were awards for courage, yet he was once fined for brutally striking…
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11. Escape at Mount McMinn

Bound by light chains and an iron collar, Joe rode just behind the two policemen, deep in a state of bitter recrimination and disbelief. The horse he’d been given was flat from work, and Stott constantly wheeled back to slap it encouragingly on the rump with a switch. ‘There’ll be nae hanging back an’ trying…
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12. Fannie Bay

Telling the story of Joe getting shot distressed Kitty. The sandy blight that afflicted her eyes – that near blindness – made her somewhat inscrutable. Yet as I grew to know her better I could tell when the howling dog of grief inside her slipped the leash and brought her down. Kitty explained to me…
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13. A Dirty Trick

Rain! Not since the Great Flood could such a deluge have fallen. We endured days when it barely let up at all. The rise on which the mission stood became a real island as the salt-pans filled, joining with Arthur’s Creek. The grass turned a vivid green, and the sky a battlesmoke grey. Conditions, overall,…
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